Climate/Change: Disruption and Transformation

The Oberlin College Class of 2026 is invited to enroll in Climate/Change: Disruption and Transformation, a special two-credit academic course.

This course is generously supported by The Xuemeng, Dale, and Matthew Sarro Family Fund for Connected Learning. 

In 2 side-by-side photos, ice, snow and water  extend to the horizon, where there is land visible. In the photo on the right, sunlight is coming from near the horizon.
"Cold Snap, Peach Point, 1/2/18-1/10/18," (installation view), by Julia Christensen, associate professor of integrated media, from the project Waiting for a Break. ​​​
More about this image

This two-channel video installation is composed of time-lapsed footage from a continuous live-feed of Lake Erie’s icy surface captured on South Bass Island during the winter of 2017–2018. Watch a full day of footage and learn more about the project online.

Just 20 minutes north of Oberlin, Lake Erie is one of the Great Lakes, a system that is home to one-fifth of the world’s surface fresh water by volume. The Great Lakes are stunning in their scope and majesty; like many of the world’s greatest natural resources, they are also threatened. Pollution and invasion of new species introduced by human activity have disrupted an ecological balance developed over thousands of years.

Record-breaking heat waves spanning the globe; more frequent and destructive hurricanes; unprecedented flooding; wild weather fluctuations with days of snow followed by wildfire. What are the mechanisms driving climate change and what levers can we pull through effective individual and collective action? How do we understand today’s climate in the context of events hundreds and even millions of years ago? How do we search for hope and build community with one another in the face of existential crisis? How can we transform?

In weekly lectures and discussions taking place Tuesday evenings from 6:30–8:30 p.m. EDT, distinguished Oberlin faculty and alumni will explore these big questions and more from the perspectives of their distinct academic disciplines and professional industries. This multidisciplinary course introduces students to the power and breadth of liberal arts learning at Oberlin.

The detailed course schedule, including weekly lecture topics, is below. You can register for the course online until the Sunday, March 27 deadline. If you would like to participate in the course but have a recurring scheduling conflict, please still submit the registration form for information about potential solutions.

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Course Schedule

Week 1: Tuesday, March 29

Mary Garvin

What is climate change?

Lecturer: Mary Garvin, Professor of Biology

Week 2: Tuesday, April 5

How do Oberlin alumni grapple with climate change?


  • Young Kim, OC ’85, Executive Director of Groundwork Milwaukee
  • Jesse Gerstin, OC ’07, Impact Investor and Entrepreneur
  • Marjolaine Goldsmith, OC ’14, Company Manager for Theater of War Productions

Week 3: Tuesday, April 12

Zeb Page

How do we understand climate change across time?

Lecturer: Zeb Page, Associate Professor of Geology

Week 4: Tuesday, April 19

Renee Romano

How did we get here?

Lecturer: Renee Romano, Robert S. Danforth Professor of History; Professor of Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies

Week 5: Tuesday, April 26

Cindy Frantz

Why are we failing to take action?

Lecturer: Cindy Frantz, Norman D. Henderson Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies


Week 6: Tuesday, May 3

Paul Brehm

How can we leverage economic markets?

Lecturer: Paul Brehm, Assistant Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies

Week 7: Tuesday, May 10

Swapna Pathak

How do international climate agreements work? Do they?

Lecturer: Swapna Pathak, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Week 8: Tuesday, May 17

Jay Fiskio

How do we live with climate disruption, anxiety, and grief?

Lecturer: Jay Fiskio, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies

Week 9: Tuesday, May 24

Julia Christiansen

How does art create transformation?

Lecturer: Julia Christensen, Associate Professor of Integrated Media


How much does it cost?

There is no cost for enrolling in this course. All readings and other materials will be provided. Students will need access to the internet in order to stream the lectures and discussion groups via Zoom.

Best of all, the course credits can be applied toward your Oberlin degree!

Learn More

Find details about course credit, class format, and more:

Frequently Asked Questions